Torturing our sports personalities over questions our politicians fail to resolve in themselves?

Well, it’s summer, and for other parts of the world a very serious and concerning one. At home, the ennui of the Peace Process™. We owe much to our guest bloggers, new talent and the sheer hard work and presence of our old stagers for keeping the conversation fresh, live and relevant in our glacial political space.

One thing worth remarking on, before it fades completely from memory, is the Paddy Barnes ‘controversy’ (such as it was) from last week.

Paddy lifted another Gold medal to add to his collection after gracefully (if it is right to use such a term) cutting through the opposition at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last week but was seen to say ‘that’s not my anthem’. Cue a fairly minor silly season feeding frenzy.

Paddy gave his ‘side’ to the story pointing out, quite correctly, that Northern Ireland not only has no anthem, it also has no official flag. The flag used at the Games is not official, but it is the only one in existence that has ‘authority’.

The question of having a new flag is not a new one. It wasn’t even that new when Gerry Lynch posed the question on Nolan’s TV show a few years back…

As has been well noted the best way to change long-term behaviour is with short-term feedback. Most of the really transformational work in Northern Ireland around the time and immediately after the Belfast Agreement.

Whilst there has to be a premium put on the stability that the DUP and Sinn Fein have brought to the party, that stability has come at the price of fresh short term innovation.

Indeed it took something as mundane as an aviation open day to flush out the degree of stasis at the centre of OFMdFM.

Retrenching to old narratives, unrevised, revisited rather than examining them in the light of new circumstances and opportunities may have to be work for another time.

In the meantime the sheer human distress of failing to resolve violent disputes elsewhere is a reminder that half the work is better than none done at all. Let’s just hope that in our serving a pressing need for stabilty we haven’t completely buried those capable of striking deals across the middle.

One day we will have to get around to taking short term actions that move us on from where we are rather than dreaming inn the long term about where we think we ought to be.

An anthem and flag might end the cruel and inhuman practice of torturing young, talented and ambitious sports men and women over questions our own politicians have thus far failed to resolve in themselves.

So what about a new flag?

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  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Sod it, one last post (for a while):

    This chap makes an interesting first port of call for new flag ideas:

  • Morpheus

    A new flag and anthem that we can all get behind is a must.

    I really like Eddie Izzard’s “Do you have a flag?” suggestion:

  • mickfealty

    ‘Those are the rules, that I’ve just made up…” one of my favourites on YouTube…

  • kensei

    Paddy is savvy enough to know exactly what he was saying and it bugger all to do with NI not having it’s own flag.

    This just is posed repeatedly and the answer is always the same from both sides – don’t want a new flag, I have my own flag. From a republican standpoint it is also only ever proffered in order to further the man in the middle fallacy, which is inherently unionist.

    I await all the lovely drawings. Tesco had a “design a kit” competition for the World Cup. Shame that was missed, we maybe could have incorporated that too. Maybe you could sing us a new anthem too Mick, and upload the results to YouTube. That might make this thread worthwhile.

  • mickfealty

    I’m happy *enough* with what we’ve got. But don’t you think it odd that we applaud this kind of Brechtian alienation over a song not being an anthem when the flag is up there, up front and central?

    The deeper point is probably better illustrated by quoting Godin further

    We rarely change short-term behavior with long-term feedback. That’s why sanctions rarely work well in international politics, and why cigarette taxes are the best way to keep people from getting lung cancer.

    My point is not that we should have a new flag, but that the current combination of peaceful coalition of two former protagonists appears inimicable to the sort of innovation that might take us further down the road to some of form of common Northern Irish identity…

    Now, I fully accept that others may see that as undesirable. But in the meantime, Danny Boy is NOT an anthem, and the flag remains up there, big and bold as brass, alienation technique or not.

  • kensei

    I find it not odd at all. I’m pretty sure there are no pics of Paddy wrapped in a Stormont flag, and I’m pretty sure if you asked him in private he’d say it’s not his flag either. There is only a furore over the anthem because he mouthed something. Most just say nothing and suck it up – what’s the difference.

    Danny is an anthem when it’s used as an anthem, btw.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    I agree with what has been said, “Danny Boy” is not my anthem either and Paddy also knew what he was doing despite a poorly construed tweet after the matter.

  • mickfealty

    I guess it’s the propagation of the old mental reservation which tells the world, this thing that seems to be happening isn’t really happening at all.

    I’m not faulting Paddy btw, the ‘fault’, if any accrues at all, lies with our politicians unwillingness to build a trusted common identity north of the border.

    Perhaps you take the view that it will all come good in the end, when the revolution comes and we all have Irish passports and this whole ‘NI’ thing will become little more than just another adolescent phase we were going through.

    Personally, at risk of repeating myself, for the reasons Godin suggests, I’m much less certain.

  • kensei

    I’m lost. There might well be a developing NI identity, but it has little to do with what Paddy did. He’s from North Belfast, he went to school with my cousin, there were Tricolours flying outside his mas house after both Olympics – we know what his anthem is. That does not make less true any of his other statements but he’s not a poster for this in the way Rory McIlroy might be.

    Anyhoo, why would republicans burn political energy on a flag and anthem for a state that we don’t want to exist? If/when it comes to it that we really really need one, it’s hardly likely it can be done unilaterally, especially with that veto an’ all.

    I’m definitely preferring a video of you singing the new anthem to this nonsense. Or least this thread being about about the awful media fascination of asking pop and sports about Gaza. Now that’s tortuing sports stars over problems we can’t solve.

  • Michael Henry

    If a Sports person wants to talk about a Anthem a flag or what county they want to represent then they are quite entitled to do so-in this day of age a person who is in the public eye can say something off the cuff and it’s straight on to Twitter Facebook Etc and makes the news-god knows how much sponsorship some one can make when they are riding the media wave- and good luck to them-

  • gunterprien

    Have you got a Bel TEL survey on who will support a UI WHEN/IF London votes itself out of the EU?
    Coz I think that would frighten a few horses . If there was such a thing. And the good thing is there is nothing the voters of the wee 17% Ireland can do about the Brexit.
    Are you a betting man Mick?..Becuase if you are I would like to make a rather large wager on what “future” of 17% Ireland is after a Brexit. And I’ll bet UI.
    I find it really strange that zero of the Bel Tel polls asked this.
    Then it’s unionist propaganda anyhoo..So not strange at all then.
    You’ll have one anthem before too long.

  • mickfealty

    I’m not given to futuring, or gambling in multiples of more than 50p. But, for the crack, give us a time frame, a figure, and a likely scenario?

  • gunterprien

    First border poll after the Brexit. A figure? How about 1 years advertising revenue. and the sceanario is that after the Brexit of 2017 , a border poll is held and the majority vote for a UI.

  • I had a few things to say about this a while back…

    The bottom line is the politicians are never going to sort out this issue, because the DUP and Sinn Féin have a vested interest in not doing so. Change will only come when civil society, sports organisations, trades unions, churches, with Paddy Barnes setting a good example, and taking things into our own hands and making the politicians play catch up.